It's up to us to fight poverty

newsroom@islandpacket.comApril 15, 2014 

Most of us don't remember that in 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society initiative, which focused on poverty and civil rights, resulted in his landslide election. Most current poverty programs in the medical, child care and living assistance arenas were passed in the following term and have been somewhat modified during the last 50 years.

Poverty improved significantly after 1964. More recently, it has worsened due to globalization, income inequality, single-parent families, job automation, availability and increasing educational requirements and inadequate schools in some communities. Our country's poverty rate leads most developed countries, and our incarceration rate is the highest in the world.

Both political parties now agree that some change is necessary, and a few representatives are recommending a full review of the effectiveness of all poverty programs.

As voters, we need to become more informed on the increasing difficulties people in poverty face and the best means of helping them. Then, we must insist that our parties and their federal, state and local candidates focus on updating our poverty programs to better meet the needs of our less fortunate.

Hopefully, our faith in God and our love for this country will help us recognize that poverty is a serious moral issue in meeting our founding declaration of justice and equal opportunity for all, much as LBJ did in 1964.

If we're losing this ability, can we continue to legitimately be a beacon of freedom and hope?

Walt Schymik

Hilton Head Island

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